20 years ago, Hurricane Andrew was a category 5 storm that hit South East Florida on August 24, 1992. I was living in Tampa, Florida and only experienced some bad weather, my family and many others suffered through the storm of the century as it was being called.
Countless property was lost and Miami, especially Homestead, Florida was an utterly appalling disaster area. Water was scarce, tempers ran high as people struggled to provide the survival necessities. My family’s home was severely damaged in the storm forcing my family to relocated to North Miami while the repairs were being done on the home. I still regret for not realizing the extent of emotional and physical damage to my family. I should have packed up my Bronco with supplies and headed to Miami, but I didn’t. And, for this I am deeply sorry. One positive outcome of the hurricane Andrew was that my beloved brother and I grew much closer cultivated our brotherhood.
I am not exactly sure when these pictures were taken. It was sometime later probably in Autumn of 1992 when I took a drive around Homestead to see the damage with my own eyes. The streets were unrecognizable, I couldn’t tell one from the next. All of my childhood landmarks were gone. The Miami that was part of my soul was blown away as the 175 mile per hour winds (280 k/ph) hit the city of my birth. When I drive Krome Avenue these days, it still looks more barren than it ever was, except for all the cookie cutter developments that was sprouted over the last 20 years.
All these years later Miami has become a greener city again. Many of the trees have grown back and some of the neighborhoods look lush as they used to, but not the same. There are neighborhoods you can visit in between Miami and Homestead where the only the foundation of buildings remain.
It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since that day. These pictures were taken with my beloved Nikon FG, and a taped up and reloaded disposable panorama camera. They were also hand printed in my university’s darkroom. Some of my first prints to be done in color. My color balancing skills were not as good as they are now. As I can now use my digital darkroom to work on my pictures, part of my heart still belongs to the magic of watching an image come alive in the developer.
Looking back now I have come to the realization how much this event changed my life. Hurricane Andrew not only tore down buildings but it ripped some families to shreds. I am thankful that my family was safe, and that we all survived to be together.
Let us not forget this tragedy as other storms barrel their way across the Caribbean and the American South, especially the land of my birth, Miami.